28/06/2018 14:06 SAST | Updated 28/06/2018 21:19 SAST

'Makwakwa Meddled; Moyane Backed Him Up,' Sars Inquiry Hears

Nugent Commission witness Makungu Mthebule has told the inquiry that staff lived in fear of former Sars deputy commissioner Jonas Makwakwa, who meddled in the tax affairs of high-profile taxpayers.

Tom Moyane during his appearance before Parliament's finance committee on November 28 2017 in Cape Town.
The Times via Getty Images
Tom Moyane during his appearance before Parliament's finance committee on November 28 2017 in Cape Town.

Former South African Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Jonas Makwakwa was one of the main focuses on day two of the inquiry into the tax collector's governance and administration, with allegations emerging that he interfered in various matters regarding high-profile taxpayers.

On Wednesday, Makungu Mthebule, former group executive of corporate legal services and former acting chief officer of strategy enablement and communication at Sars, delivered explosive testimony in which she also claimed that employees feared Makwakwa.

"I was very happy when Tom Moyane was appointed (as Sars commissioner). I had a fairly good relationship with him. During the period when I was acting as a chief officer, I sat at exco. I raised difficult questions, some of which made Moyane unhappy. The biggest issue I raised was the culture of fear: fear and a dictatorship ongoing in the organisation," she said.

READ MORE: Sars Is A Mess Thanks To Tom Moyane. Here's How He Did It.

"When I raised the issue of dictatorship, my boss (Moyane) was not happy. If I remember carefully, Moyane was talking about something to the effect that 'our people' need to feel safe. I raised my hand and I said, 'Commissioner, we need to look at ourselves in this group... they are so scared of us. They (employees) feel somebody always tells them what to do, and it is not necessarily their bosses.'"

Mthebule, in recalling these statements at an exco meeting, was referring directly to Makwakwa. She said Moyane "was livid" and stormed out of the meeting.

"He (Moyane) called me the next day we had a one-on-one, and I explained exactly what I meant. Each and every one of my colleagues was complaining about interference in their division. And they were all complaining about one person — Makwakwa," she said.

"Especially with the VIP unit; it's a very sensitive unit. There was a lot of interference, and I raised it with the commissioner — there were people who were constantly harassed over information over this taxpayer or that taxpayer."

The VIP unit deals with the tax affairs of political parties, ministers, high-profile politicians and even the president.

Makwakwa, who was a group executive at the time, had no authority over units other than his own.

Mthebule said that after the controversial restructuring process at the organisation, the VIP unit was then placed under Makwakwa.

"I would constantly be pushed; he would ask what's happening with this case or that case. He would phone and SMS, saying, 'I'm in Cape Town with certain people, they want to know what's happening with their taxes'," she said.

Mthebule alleged that Makwakwa not only made queries about the tax affairs of high-profile politicians, but also attempted to instruct her on how to handle some of their cases.

"Especially with one particular taxpayer that I'm not going to mention. Mostly they were calls, others were SMS messages. One specific SMS; I was so irritated. It frustrated me so much; this is my peer... he was always ahead of everyone else with respect to information and everything else," she said.

Mthebule said she always refused his requests.